Illinois lawsuit climate ranks near bottom in U.S. Chamber survey

 

From Illinois Business Journal news services

Illinois’ lawsuit climate is among the worst in the country at No. 48 out of 50, an all-time low ranking for the state, according to a new national survey released Wednesday by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform.

The Institute will formally release “2015 Lawsuit Climate Survey: Ranking the States” alongside Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, and business and civil justice reform groups from across the state, during an afternoon press conference today in Chicago.

According to the report, 75 percent of senior company attorneys surveyed say that a state’s lawsuit environment is likely to impact important business decisions at their company, including where to locate or expand. That is an 18 percent increase from eight years ago, and an all-time high.

“More business leaders than ever have identified a state’s lawsuit climate as a significant factor in determining their growth and expansion plans,” said Lisa A. Rickard, president of the Institute. “In light of its pressing budget needs, Illinois should recognize that the results of this survey are of vital significance to its economic growth.”

Illinois’ lawsuit climate ranked only above Louisiana and West Virginia nationally, and beneath every bordering state including: Indiana (18), Iowa (4), Kentucky (39), Missouri (42), and Wisconsin (20).

More than a third of the survey respondents identified Chicago/Cook County or Madison County in Illinois as the city or county court with the “least fair and reasonable litigation environment for both defendants and plaintiffs” in the entire country.

Over the years, Madison County’s loose standards for accepting cases from outside the county and even the state has made it a national focal point for asbestos litigation. Further, a law signed in late 2014 by the outgoing governor to lift any time limits on filing certain asbestos cases could consolidate even more cases there. Gov. Rauner has proposed strengthening venue laws to limit such “litigation tourism” into Illinois.

“Negative reputations of courts in certain counties, like Cook, Madison, McLean, and St. Clair, which still invite out-of-state lawsuits and produce jackpot jury awards continue to hold back Illinois,” Rickard said.

In tandem with the survey, the Chamber Institute released “101 Ways to Improve State Legal Systems,” listing key legal reforms that states can adopt to improve their lawsuit climates. ILR also launched a national media campaign to raise awareness about the importance of a fair and balanced lawsuit system.

Harris Poll, a global polling firm, conducted the 2015 Lawsuit Climate Survey through telephone and online interviews between March 9 and June 24, 2015. The respondents were more than 1,200 general counsels and senior attorneys or leaders in companies with annual revenues of at least $100 million.

See the entire 50-state list and read a full copy of the 2015 Lawsuit Climate Survey online at: http://www.instituteforlegalreform.com/.

The Institute seeks to promote civil justice reform through legislative, political, judicial, and educational activities at the national, state, and local levels.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than three million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.

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